(Originally published for Techcrunch on Feb 17th, 2021)
The solution to the world’s climate change problems could be under our feet, as soil has the potential to store more than three times the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. But about 45% of the Earth’s soil is used for agriculture, and most farmland has lost up to 30% of its carbon from unsustainable land management practices.
To turn agricultural land into a thriving carbon sink, farmers need to be able to manage it by shifting to regenerative agriculture practices like reducing tillage, planting cover crops and increasing crop rotations and biodiversity. But you can’t manage something until you can measure it, and that’s where Yard Stick comes in.
“Soil sequestration can be a really powerful carbon removal technology,” said Chris Tolles, CEO of Yard Stick. “But only if we’ve got really high-quality science and technology helping us measure it.”
Quantifying regenerative agriculture is a challenge, and measuring soil carbon is no exception. The traditional method, dry combustion, requires a lot of leg work. Scientists trudge across acres of land digging up soil samples and mail them thousands of miles to a lab where another scientist burns the soil to calculate the carbon.
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